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Arizona Diamondbacks Sign Infielder Cliff Pennington to a 2-Year Deal

The Arizona Diamondbacks have extended the contract for newly acquired infielder Cliff Pennington, keeping him in Phoenix on a two-year, $5 million deal. The signing was reported by Buster Olney of ESPN via his Twitter feed.

The 21st overall pick in the 2005 amateur draft played five seasons with the Oakland Athletics. He was never much of a hitter, but played defense well enough to start. He was the starting second baseman for the Athletics in the 2012 Division Series.

He came over to the Diamondbacks in the three-team deal that sent Heath Bell to Arizona and Chris Young to Oakland. The Diamondbacks depth chart on has Pennington as the starting shortstop.

But Arizona also acquired Didi Gregorius from the Cincinnati Reds to play shortstop, and it cost the team Trevor Bauer, who is a top pitching prospect. So, where the 29-year-old Pennington fits into their long-term plans is unclear.

Perhaps the move insures a deep infield to go along with their stacked outfield and strong, young rotation. 

Either way, the shortstop position, which looked so uncertain after the trade of Stephen Drew during the 2012 season, has a little more depth to it now.

The Diamondbacks’ off season might not have been easy to define with some of their surprising moves, and the never ending Justin Upton rumors. But they seem to have filled in a lot of holes in the process.

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Miami Marlins Interested in Free-Agent Reliever Matt Capps

The Miami Marlins are looking to boost their bullpen with a veteran presence. One pitcher they are looking into signing is former Minnesota Twins reliever Matt Capps, according to Barry Jackson of

The 29-year-old reliever is currently a free agent after the Twins bought out his $6 million option for 2013, as reported by Joe Christensen of

Capps pitched well when healthy in 2012 but missed several months due to shoulder inflammation.

The onetime Pittsburgh Pirates closer was the winning pitcher of the 2010 All-Star Game as a representative of the Washington Nationals. In that same season, he was dealt to the Minnesota Twins in a trade involving catcher Wilson Ramos. He pitched for the Twins in the 2010 Division Series against the New York Yankees.

The Marlins will go into the 2013 season with a revamped bullpen following the disastrous season with Heath Bell as closer.

Steve Cishek, Dan Jennings and Ryan Webb all showed promise and are 27 years old or younger. The addition of a veteran like Capps could be a steadying presence in their young bullpen.

And Capps would be a much more reasonable signing without a lost draft pick as they had with Bell a year ago.

Sometimes a more frugal move can be a smarter move both for the payroll and on the field. Capps could be the right fit in Miami.

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Washington Nationals Sign Closer Rafael Soriano to a 2-Year Deal

In October of 2012, the Washington Nationals melted down in the Division Series, blowing a ninth inning lead in the fifth game. Drew Storen pitched in four of the five games and could not hold onto the 7-5 Game 5 lead and the Nationals lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 9-7.

If the Nationals find themselves in a similar situation in October of 2013, they will be handing the ball to former New York Yankees closer Rafael Soriano. The Nationals signed the Scott Boras client to a relatively low risk two year, $28 million contract, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter.)

The deal has an option for a third season if Soriano finishes 120 games over the 2013 and 2014 season. 

Soriano had little interest in the open market this offseason. According to Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times, Boras tried to get the Detroit Tigers to bring him aboard and in theory he seemed like a natural fit for the defending American League Champions.

Soriano opted out of a $14 million agreement with the New York Yankees for a chance to close games, something he probably would do with the return of Mariano Rivera. After Jose Valverde’s postseason meltdown, the Tigers had a spot for him in the rotation. But perhaps the cost of a draft pick soured his chances to come to the Motor City.

Now he will land in Washington and pitch alongside Storen, Tyler Clippard, Craig Stammen and Ryan Mattheus.

Relievers can be hard to predict and Soriano is no exception.

He was very effective in 2009 with the Atlanta Braves and an All Star and Cy Young contender in 2010 with the Tampa Bay Rays. But in 2011, his first year with the New York Yankees, he was riddled with injuries and inconsistencies, before bouncing back for a terrific year while replacing the injured Rivera in the Bronx.

The Nationals are banking on 2009, 2010 and 2012 Soriano and not the 2011 model.

If they do, the city of Washington may actually see a postseason series victory for the first time since 1924.

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Arizona Diamondbacks Re-Sign J. J. Putz to a 2-Year Extension

The Arizona Diamondbacks have had a very busy offseason, starting with the trade that imported Heath Bell from the Miami Marlins to the three-team deal that sent phenom pitcher Trevor Bauer to Cleveland. They continued their activity by extending the contract of reliever J. J. Putz through the end of the 2014 season, according to The Associated Press (via Yahoo Sports.)

The 35-year-old closer had his 2013 option picked up by the team in October and now will pitch in the desert for an additional year. He saved 32 out of 37 chances and posted a 2.82 ERA in 2012. In the second half of 2012, he let up only three earned runs in 26.1 innings, posting a 1.03 ERA, striking out 36 and walking four. He did not let up a single run in July or August of 2012.

The Diamondbacks hope he can turn his fantastic second half into an All-Star 2013. 

Arizona will sport a bullpen with three veterans (Putz, Bell and Brad Ziegler) and several solid young pitchers such as David Hernandez, Josh Collmenter and Tony Sipp

If Putz can lock down the ninth innings and the other pitchers can pitch to their roles, especially with Heath Bell removed from the circus in Miami, then Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson should have a lockdown pen in a very competitive National League West.

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Arizona Diamondbacks Should Keep Justin Upton and Make Peace with Him

A new rumor involving the Arizona Diamondbacks trading outfielder Justin Upton seems to surface daily. is updating constantly with the latest potential landing spots for the sometimes brilliant and sometimes enigmatic right handed slugger.

Nick Piecoro of USA Today Sports reported that Upton used his no trade clause to block a potential deal to the Seattle Mariners. According to Jerry Crasnick of, he can also block deals to the improving Toronto Blue Jays, the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs.

Marc Carig of wrote that the New York Mets are not negotiating a deal. It’s an odd turn for a team that earlier in the winter dealt the popular Cy Young winner R. A. Dickey for prospects only to offer prospects for Upton.

According to Buster Olney of ESPN (via Twitter) the Atlanta Braves are “lying in the weeds” for a deal that would unite Justin with his brother B. J.

But the Diamondbacks should consider a new course of action: Keeping Upton.

The frustration that Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick felt with Upton (and Stephen Drew) became public during a radio interview in June of 2012 (via Matthew Pouliot of 

Calling Upton an “enigma” and criticizing his inconsistent play, Kendrick was certainly expressing the frustrations felt by Diamondbacks fans.

But he has also put the team in a position where they would not be getting top value for the first pick of the 2005 Draft. Trading him after a down season would be bad enough. Having an overcrowded outfield as the Diamondbacks currently have puts Arizona at another disadvantage for leverage.

The sense around the league that management does not want him back lowers his value even further. The idea that the Diamondbacks wanted a player out who did not fit in already was felt this year.

Pitching prospect Trevor Bauer clashed with ownership in his cameo. He did not get along with his new teammates, especially with catcher Miguel Montero (via He was shipped off to Cleveland and many writers, including Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated, felt that the Diamondbacks undersold Bauer.

They should not make the same mistake with Upton. Instead the team should rely on manager Kirk Gibson to get the most out him. Upton responded to Gibson in 2011 with an MVP contending season and the Diamondbacks won the West.

This year Arizona has a solid pitching staff, few holes in their lineup and ambitions to win the West again.

The 25 year old Justin Upton still has a lot to offer. Make peace with him, Diamondbacks. Both parties will be better off with a happy and productive Justin Upton. 

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Cleveland Indians Take a Chance with LHP Scott Kazmir

The Cleveland Indians signed left handed starting pitcher Scott Kazmir to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, according to Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

At one point in his career, Scott Kazmir was one of the best left-handed pitchers in the American League. Initially a product of the New York Mets farm system, Kazmir left for Tampa Bay after being acquired in the Victor Zambrano trade in July of 2004. That deal haunted fans in Flushing for years.

By the end of the 2004 season, Kazmir made his big league debut. By 2005, he was a Rookie of the Year candidate. In 2006, he made his first All-Star team.

In 2008, he was an All-Star once again, leading the league in strikeouts. He helped pitch the Tampa Bay Rays first into the playoffs as a Division Champion. Then in Game 2 of the 2008 Division Series against the Chicago White Sox, Kazmir got the win over Mark Buehrle. He would go on to start Game 1 of the World Series.

By the end of 2009, he was dealt to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and pitched well in his six starts. He would pitch in the Division Series and ALCS for the second-straight year. 

By the start of the 2010 season, he was an established big league starter and only 26 years old. 

Then the wheels came off. Hamstring and shoulder issues contributed to a dreadful 2010 season. His 5.94 ERA was the worst in baseball for qualifying pitchers.

According to Kevin Baxter of The Los Angeles Times, the Angels sent Kazmir to an extensive offseason workout program between the 2010 and 2011 seasons. The results were disastrous. He pitched a single game in April of 2011 where he could not get out of the second inning. As of this writing, he has not thrown a pitch in the majors since.

The Angels eventually released Kazmir, eating more than $14 million in the process.

After stops in the Domincan Republic and an Independent League in 2012, Kazmir wants to climb back to the big leagues.

With a starting staff, according to, that includes the likes of Justin Masterson, Brett Myers, Ubaldo Jimenez and Carlos Carrasco, the Indians rotation has some question marks of their own. 

Kazmir represents a low-risk and low-cost option for the Indians. But if he works out, the Indians will have picked up a left-handed starter who has been an All-Star multiple times, has postseason experience and is still under 30.

That would be quite an upside if he pans out.

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Colorado Rockies Are Interested in Pitcher Jeff Karstens

The Colorado Rockies‘ search for pitching entering the 2013 season continues. According to Troy E. Renck of The Denver Post, one of the low-risk free agents they are considering is former Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Jeff Karstens.

The 30-year-old former Yankee prospect put together big numbers at Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Columbus and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before making his Yankee debut with the 2006 American League East Champions.

He fared well in his first few games in the majors. He pitched six innings for the win against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in his second start.

His third start was a hard-luck loss to the eventual division champion Minnesota Twins when he went seven innings and let up a single run.

But any plans for Karstens‘ long-term future in the Bronx went awry when he stumbled badly in 2007.

In July of 2008, Karstens, still in Triple-A, was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the trade that sent Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady to New York.

In 2011, he started to resemble the prospect who pitched so well in the Yankees’ farm. Karstens was the National League Player of the Week from July 11 to 17 and at one point won five straight decisions.

He finished the season with nine wins, a 3.38 ERA, 162 1/3 innings pitched, an ERA+ of 110 and a WHIP of 1.207, all full-season career-highs.

Injuries limited him to 90 2/3 innings last season, but he still pitched to a respectable 3.97 ERA and a 1.147 WHIP.

He was non-tendered by the Pirates and is a free agent who does not require compensation. 

A healthy Karstens would have no problem making the Rockies’ rotation. And perhaps that is all Colorado needs right now.

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Freddy Garcia Could Wind Up Pitching for the Colorado Rockies

The Colorado Rockies are trying to piece together a pitching staff. Freddy Garcia is a free agent pitcher looking for work. The Rockies and Garcia very well might be a match this off season.

According to the Twitter feed of Troy Renck, Denver Post Rockies writer, Colorado is looking at low risk free agents, including Garcia.

But they are not alone in courting the 36-year-old right-hander who posted a 5.20 ERA with the Yankees in 2012. As Jon Heyman of wrote, the Minnesota Twins and Cincinnati Reds have also expressed interest in him.

No longer the power pitcher of his youth, Garcia uses a slider and splitter as his out pitches. He no longer relies on his power mixed with his change up as he did when he was a younger pitcher.

Garcia was one of the main pieces in the Seattle Mariners trade of Randy Johnson to the Astros. Garcia, a Houston farm hand, fit right in with the Mariners. He posted a 17-8 record with 201 1/3 innings pitched in his rookie year of 1999.

In 2001, he led the American League with a 3.05 ERA and 238 2/3 innings pitched.

As a member of the 2005 Chicago White Sox, he won 14 games with a 3.87 ERA over 228 innings pitched. He would go on to win all three of his post season starts including a complete game victory in Game 4 of the ALCS against the Anaheim Angels. 

Garcia threw eight shutout innings and got the win in the 2005 World Series clincher.

He keeps finding ways to win, posting back to back 12 win seasons in 2010 and 2011 A subpar 2012 with the Yankees made him available now.

The Rockies hope they can catch a little lightning in a bottle with the veteran Garcia. 

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Kansas City Royals Sign Former MVP Miguel Tejada to a Minor League Deal

The Kansas City Royals are continuing their makeover for the 2013 season by signing 2002 AL MVP Miguel Tejada.

According to the Associated Press (via, Tejada’s contract is a one-year minor league deal that can be worth $1.1 million if he makes it to Kansas City. There are additional incentives that can make the contract worth $1.5 million in total.

In 2012, he played 36 games in the Baltimore Orioles organization but requested and was granted his release at mid-season.

With the Royals, he will probably be asked to play a utility role. He could back up Mike Moustakas at third base, Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella at second base and play some at the designated hitter.

When he played for the Oakland Athletics in the early 2000s, he was one of the elite players in the game. The power hitting shortstop won the MVP in the 2002 season made famous by the movie Moneyball.

He translated his Oakland success to a six-year, $72 million contract with the Baltimore Orioles after the 2003 postseason.

Tejada career has had its share of controversies. His former Baltimore teammate Rafael Palmeiro named Tejada as the man who gave him a steroid-tainted needle, according to Tejada has denied it.

And issues aboutTejada’s age, name and birth certificate, reported by ESPN, swirled around him and ended a televised interview with him storming off the set.

The Royals are hoping that is all behind him. They are signing a veteran player who as recently as 2010 was a contributor to the Padres‘ surprising 90-win season. He is a six-time All Star who was named to the team as recently as 2009.

He has 2,362 hits and 304 home runs in the bank as well.

All the Royals need him to be is a role player. Tejada might be up for the challenge.

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Miami Marlins: The All-Time ‘One Year and Gone’ Team

The Marlins, whether they be Florida or Miami, are not known for keeping their quality players for long periods of time. Every four or five years, the team has a total purging of their well known and well paid players and young unknown talents are ushered in.

Along the way, the team has stumbled into two World Series titles, as many as the Indians, Phillies, Cubs and Mets have won in their longer histories.

But few players have stuck around in South Florida long enough to be associated with the Marlins. In fact I was able to compile a 25 man roster of players who played one season or less as a member of the Marlins.

Several All Stars, a few future Hall of Famers, some batting champions and many bright stars have just one season of Marlins baseball on the backs of their baseball cards.

The list does not include Bobby Bonilla, who spent 1997 and part of 1998 as a Marlin. Several relievers such as Dennis Cook, Graeme Lloyd and Ed Vosberg were left out.

And I also omitted Ozzie Guillen as the team’s manager as another one and done skipper passed through town and picked up the Manager of the Year award along the way.

So don’t blink Marlins fans. You might miss a star on your team in the The All Time “One Year and Gone” Team!

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